Code of conduct on online disinformation: how Europe strengthens the fight against fake news

On 24 June, EACA joined the webinar “Towards a Paris Agreement for Disinformation” organised by Avaaz. The webinar sought to answer the question: what do we need to provide an effective framework against misinformation?

The European Commission has recently published its guidance on strengthening the Code of conduct on online disinformation, calling for greater effectiveness of the tool, as part of a discussion with stakeholders to increase transparency and accountability of platforms’ policies.

The evaluation of revealed several shortcomings in light of the Covid-19 pandemic and disinformation around it.  disinformation campaign on Covid-19.

Strengthening the Code of Conduct on online disinformation

In the European Democracy Action Plan, the European Commission announced to draw up guidance indicating several areas for strengthening the Code of conduct, including.

  • more involvement with targeted commitments.
  • Better “demonetisation” of disinformation.
  • Ensuring the integrity of services.
  • Improving user empowerment.
  • Increasing the coverage of fact-checking and providing greater access to data for researchers.
  • Creating a more robust and structured monitoring framework.

Furthermore, in a structured approach, the European Commission’s proposal for the Digital Services Act (DSA) establishes co-regulatory support for the measures included in the “strengthened” version of the Code,.

Future developments

In terms of information transparency, the European Commission highlights the importance of developing a transparency centre in which shared criteria are established to define compliance policies and methods for implementing the Code of conduct, also envisaging the introduction of monitoring tools and performance indicators to measure the level of consistency and virtuosity of individual signatories.

The Guide also proposes the establishment of a permanent task force chaired by the European Commission, which will be composed of the signatories of the Code as well as representatives of the European External Action Service, the European Regulators Group for Audio-visual Media Services, and the European Digital Media Observatory, which received more than €11 million to set up eight regional hubs.

The task force, which experts will also support, will help review and adopt the Code of Conduct on online disinformation given technological, social, market and legislative developments.